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Going My Way

By Ana M. Kinkaid
Published: 03/08/07 Topics: Comments: 0

Writing accurate directions to your property is a vital first step to insuring successful guest stays. This seems basic, but sadly, it is often overlooked by the busy vacation home owner.

First impressions, as the old saying goes, do matter. And you want that initial experience to be a positive one that sets the best tone for the rest of your guest's stay. Experienced vacation rental owners will all tell that you if a guest arrives tired and angry from hours of searching for their rental, chances are they will transfer that initial dissatisfaction over to other parts of their vacation at your property.

This can result in guests not rebooking with you and more often, a request for a refund and as well as negative comments posted on internet travel review sites. So as you can see, accurate directions ARE important.

That said, the next question is how to write an AD (which is what professional cartographers call 'Accurate Directions' as opposed to inaccurate lets-all-get-lost-in-the woods directions or IADs). It is best to remember that your guest is probably not anywhere as familiar with your area as you are.

What can seem simple and direct to you, can be confusing and disorient to your guest. Don't assume that the directions you would give a local resident will work for your incoming rental guest.

A great place to start (and please, note we said 'start'), are the commercial direction sites on the internet such as Google Map (mapsgoogle.com)mapsgoogle.com, MapQuest (mapquest.com)mapquest.com, MapBlast (mapblast.com)mapblast.com and Rand McNally Maps (randmcnally.com)randmcnally.com to name just a few.

Enter the name of the largest metropolitan center near your rental as the departure point and your property address as the arrival point. Print out the directions and call a good friend who is willing to take a drive with you. That friend is going to be very important to the success of your directions. Why? Because nothing in this world is perfect and that includes directional information on the internet. As your friend drives, your job will be to write down all the landmarks that are omitted as well as expand the directions to include point-to-point driving mileage, complete street names and exit numbers.

Be sure to add compass directions to your right-left turn information. Schedule your 'verification' drive at the same time of day and season that your guests generally arrive for check-in. A guest arriving on a dark winter evening needs a different set of directions from the guest who is arriving in the brighter summer season. A recommendation that guests bring a flashlight has made many street signs easier for guests to read on darkened winter days.

After you have updated your internet printout via a road trip, write out your new set of AD directions for your rental property. Ask two different friends to 'play' guest and re-drive your expanded directions. Review their input and include their additions, if you feel it will aid the guest in finding your rental.

Keep an ongoing eye open for construction and detours that can effect and possibly alter your directions. Enter your information into your computer, and relax, because now you can rest assured your guest will arrive smiling and on time, ready to enjoy your lovely property right from the start.

INSURING SUCCESS

Your vacation rental is an investment. And like every investment, it should be protected. But many vacation rental home owners are unaware that the standard 'Property and Liability' insurance that protects their own home residence very often does NOT extend to a second vacation home if it used as a holiday rental property.

Indeed, often filing a damage claim on a vacation rental under standard property and liability insurance can result in decline of benefits AND a cancellation of your policy! Ouch!

VROA, however, has an answer for you. Indeed, we have THE answer: the only insurance policy designed specifically for vacation rental properties. Working with Cascade Risk Placement Inc., one of the most experienced (and fast growing) brokers and providers of risk management services in the insurance industry, VROA is proud to offer this unique opportunity exclusively to our VROA members.

For more information, logon to the (VROA.org)VROA.org website and review the property insurance section. Or contact Ana Dean-Feder directly at Cascade Risk Placement Inc. at 425-452-1115, ext. 12 for a direct quote within 24 hours as well as personalized professional service.

This single phone call will result in guaranteeing that your property is protected from the many mishaps that can sometimes happen. Your guests deserve peace of mind, and so do you. VROA is proud to help you sleep better tonight, knowing that your success is truly insured.

TOP PROPERTY: Charles Eglinton's Disney World Wonder!

It's always a joy to share great news with others. And VROA is delighted to highlight as often as possible members' properties that are outstanding as well as accent some of the reasons for their success. One such property is Charles Eglington's remarkable vacation home near Disney World in Florida .

This luxury rental property offers guests over 2,400 square feet of space - over 30% larger than many other area rentals. And that is one of its secrets – this owner understands that no one (well, hardly anyone) goes to Disney World alone. Disney World was designed for family fun. And families need space.

Knowing the needs of visitors to your area is a critical component to your marketing success.

The four guest bedrooms as well as the 24 foot ceilings all create a welcoming sense of open and relaxed space. Parents and children can view Disney videos after a day at the Epcot Center on a 50' big-screen television.

Relaxation inside as well as enjoying the unique outside private pool (shallow enough to be safe for children but deep enough for adult laps) all highlight another reason this property is success: Guests can enjoy their time at this lovely home as well as their time at the famed theme park.

Knowing that everyone needs a relaxing and attractive rest area after a busy day is another vital insight that insures each renter's enjoyment.

And last, not at all least, there are many amenities and services located right near by. Universal Orlando, Seaworld, tennis courts, golf, dinner theater, beautiful beaches are close at hand as well as 24 hour food markets.

This owner has thought even about traffic patterns and long lines when he offers to share his 'special directions' that enables guests to enter the theme parks 'the back way' and avoid the nightmare of waiting in long lines at the main gates. What more could a guest ask for! Knowing (and helping) visitors avoid holiday difficulties that might occur is one sure way to make each renter say, 'Let's come here again!'

View this Top Property at: (mickeytown.com)mickeytown.com

ON BOARD: VROA Members' Questions and Answers

Question: How do I maintain positive relations with my non-renting neighbors?

Director's Answer: The best way to maintain positive relations is to start off positively. Meet with your neighbors individually and tell them you will (1) be renting your lovely vacation home to some wonderful guests and (2) it is going to be well managed, either by you or by a professional service. Do your research prior to the conversation so you can answer their questions and concerns. Bring paper and pen and write down any questions you don't know the answer to. Be sure to get back to your neighbors as quickly as possible with the answers. Be positive, even if the first reaction is negative. Focus the conversation on the facts, not the fears.

Be an involved community member as well, attending board and council meetings if possible. If you are a long distance home owner consider have an official representative there in your place, such as a local business partner or professional property management service. Consider donating room nights in your off season to local charity auctions. Local winners who enjoy their stay with you will become some of your best vocal supporters. Volunteer to write a small column on tourism for your local paper.

In short, be involved, be positive and have fun. The mood will be catching!

MEET THE PRESS: Industry Survey Shows that Vacation Rentals Support Local Community

One of the negative comments often heard is that vacation rentals in some way hurt the local economy. But the actual situation, as demonstrated by a California Travel Industry Association survey, published in Yacht Vacations and Charters Magazine tells a very different story.

Vacation rental guests do more than merely rent accommodations. They also enjoy the full amenities of the region's lifestyle from vineyards to cuisine, from crafts to concerts. The end result is an increase of revue that benefits everyone. Quality, well-managed vacation rentals ARE a positive motivator of quality community development and an exciting new segment of the hospitality industry.

BOOK MARK: Building Your Professional Library

VROA often receives requests from members looking for books and other material about the lodging industry. Many owners are amazed to learn the vacation rentals are one of the fastest growing segments of the hospitality industry. With that in mind, it is important for rental owners to develop a working knowledge of the growth industry they are now a part of.

One of the best books to add to your shelf of professional books is S. Medlik's Dictionary of Travel, Tourism and Hospitality, published by Butterworth-Heinemann in 2003. This classic of the industry contains just about every word you will ever encounter in the world of lodging. The over 2,500 terms clearly explain, among other things, how the industry legally defines an 'Act of God', an 'AH Booking', 'Rack Rates' and what the term 'Transient' really means.

In addition this very useful reference book also lists over 300 professional organizations and 1,200 industry acronyms and abbreviations. If you want to know that you know, this book is for you.

Author: Ana M. Kinkaid, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0067 – 03/08/07

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